After scoring three goals to help her
Dublin Jerome (Dublin, Ohio)
girls soccer team win 5-0 on Sept. 8 at state-ranked Anthony Wayne (Whitehouse, Ohio), Lindsay Agnew
was met with a cake before the bus ride home.
She then stood to read through three pages of notes, which talked about each of her teammates' strengths and abilities and provided a few reminders about what they would need to do over the coming weeks.
The emotion-filled few minutes were the last she would experience for up to a month with a team that she helped lead to a Division I state runner-up finish a year ago.
Some adventures, such as the one she was to embark on two days later when she traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan to begin play for Team Canada in the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, aren't without their share of memorable but sometimes painful moments.
Agnew plays forward for her high school team and for the Ohio Premier Eagles club team, but is also starting at defender for the Canadian national team. Canada opened the World Cup by tying Nigeria, 1-1, on Sept. 22 and then beat Colombia 1-0 on Sept. 25. The team plays host Azerbaijan on Saturday in its final game of Group A play, and the top two teams in each of the four groups advance to the quarterfinals, which begin Oct. 4.
The U.S. team is playing in Group B and faces Korea on Saturday after playing France to a scoreless tie on Sept. 22 and beating Gambia 6-0 on Sept. 25.
There were about 18,000 in attendance for Canada's game against Nigeria, and Jennifer Lopez performed during the opening ceremony.
"It has been a really amazing experience and I feel so lucky to have been able to have it," said Agnew, committed to Ohio State. "Playing international games is an unbelievable feeling and wearing that Canada jersey has been a dream of mine ever since I can remember. Obviously there are a lot of ups and downs but the sacrifices have definitely been worth it."
Agnew was born in Kingston, Ontario (Canada) and later lived in London, Ontario before moving to Syracuse, N.Y. in 2001.
Her father, Gary Agnew, was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and coached the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League from 2000-06 before becoming an assistant with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2006. He was named interim coach of the Blue Jackets on Nov. 13, 2006, after the firing of Gerard Gallant, before Ken Hitchcock was named the new head coach nine days later.
The Agnew family moved to Columbus in 2006 and Agnew served as an assistant with the Blue Jackets from 2006-10. He became an assistant with the St. Louis Blues in June.
Lindsay Agnew's brother Brett Agnew, a 2008 Dublin Jerome graduate, played two years of junior hockey in Canada and currently plays hockey for Ohio University.
Despite the family's background in the winter sport, Lindsay remembers gravitating to soccer at a young age.
"I loved soccer from the very start," Lindsay said. "My mom (Barb Agnew) says I used to go into the garage toy box when I was 2 and always came out with the soccer ball. My mom signed me up for a soccer team when I was 3 and she says that I was always very competitive about it. When my dad and brother came home I was always making them play soccer with me out in the yard.
"My family is not a big soccer family, but they're a big sports family. However, I think they have all taken their fair share of turns in the net at our house blocking shots from me — hockey gloves and all."
Agnew's success in soccer come easily, largely due to her passion for the sport. Standing nearly 6 feet tall, Agnew is "one of the most dynamically fast kids with an unbelievable touch" according to Jerome coach Josh Brader.
It's her work ethic, however, that he believes has set her apart.
"She has a tremendous work ethic and she wants to win, and I think
that's what's driving her and setting her apart," said Brader. "She got moved to
outside back with her Canadian team because of an injury to another
player and she hasn't been off the field since. Her chance came and she
took advantage of it."
When she first joined the Ohio Premier club program in 2006, she began a
three-year stint on one of the club's lower-level teams, the OP Black. Agnew
was placed on the OP Green as a high school freshman and spent the
first month of that season at Dublin Jerome on the junior varsity.
"When she first came to us, she was kind of an awkward kid and we ended
up putting her on our second or third team," said Chris King, who is
club director for Ohio Premier. "She was what I'd call a baby giraffe at
the time because she was tall and lanky. She started to fill out her
body and she started asking other coaches if she could do other
"Finally in about her U-15 tryouts, we decided it was time to give her a chance and she had a really good year on our top team."
Agnew missed most of her sophomore season with the Celtics because of an arm injury but bounced back with a standout season last fall, posting 22 goals and 18 assists while being named the district's Player of the Year.
"She has the intellect and she understands the game well," Brader said. "Beyond that, she's also the hardest-working kid on the team. When we run sprints, she's always working the hardest, and I can go on to say that she's an even better person. She's got the leadership, mentality and work rate all wrapped up in one.
"She's got a really balanced family. Her mom's very involved, and they're just caring, supportive parents. You sometimes will see Lindsay coming out of practice with her arm around a (junior varsity) player's shoulders. She definitely tries to deflect any kind of credit away from herself."
"I loved the girls on the OP Black team and had a really close team, so I wouldn't say it was frustrating, but I had always wanted to be the best player I could be and play in the best environment, so not making the A team (for a few years) was tough," Agnew said. "Looking back, I think that not always making the teams I strived for was good for me because now I feel like I have to constantly prove myself to everyone."
Barb Agnew was instrumental in Lindsay eventually joining Team Canada.
Lindsay doesn't have American citizenship because she was born in Canada, but she attended a few tryouts for the U.S. team. In 2010, Barb began a letter-writing campaign explaining to Team Canada that her daughter could be good enough for their team even though she lives in Ohio.
"I'm a typical soccer mom," Barb Agnew said. "I just started telling them, ‘Hey, she's a special player and she's Canadian.' It took a few months, but being a pushy mom maybe paid off a little. I just kept writing and they called her for a tryout."
"She's pretty self-motivated, so whether it's soccer, school or tiddlywinks, she's pretty motivated," Gary Agnew said.
"Since she was a little girl she talked about playing on the world stage. She's always been driven to get there and it's not been easy. Wayne Gretzky once said that people wouldn't think I was so great if they knew how hard I had to work at it, and that's the same thing with her."
Agnew began training with Canada's national team in August of 2011 and went on to help the Celtics to a 20-2-1 record last season. Jerome lost to Strongsville 1-0 in the state championship game.
She spent time this summer training with the U-17 Canadian national team and missed her high school team's first two games. Agnew played five games for Dublin Jerome from Aug. 28 through Sept. 8 and will be eligible to rejoin her high school team once her time in the World Cup is over.
Dublin Jerome was ranked seventh in the Division I state poll last week and was 7-1-2 before playing Worthington Kilbourne (Worthington, Ohio) on Sept. 25.
Even if Canada makes it to the final round of the World Cup, Agnew should be back in time for Dublin Jerome's district tournament, which begins Oct. 16.
"It has definitely been tough leaving the Jerome soccer team," Agnew said. "They are like family to me and my best friends, and it's never fun missing out on things. I wish I could be in two places at once, but I'm happy that I at least get to come back for tournament time. Until then, I talk to most of them every day on Skype, Twitter or Facebook, and I'm always thinking of them and waiting to hear how games go.
"I think playing (in Azerbaijan) will help me when I get home because I will be really fired up to get back with them, and I will do everything I can to make the season as long as possible because I have already missed out on so much." Jarrod Ulrey has covered prep sports for ThisWeekSPORTS.com for 17 years and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org